Interim report on the COVID-19 pandemic response
The Select Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic response has released its second interim report. The Committee has drawn on the evidence provided to it in public hearings and submissions to make the following 15 recommendations:
The Committee recommends the ACT Government direct that all delegated legislation made in response to COVID-19 (including notifiable instruments) include a statement of compatibility outlining whether and how the instrument is compatible with human rights.
The Committee recommends that where emergency measures are introduced by way of delegated legislation, they should be accompanied by a statement of compatibility with human rights.
The Committee recommends that delegated legislation made in response to COVID-19 be in the form of disallowable instruments, rather than notifiable instruments to ensure appropriate and adequate oversight by the Legislative Assembly.
The Committee recommends that ACT Policing make public all guidance or directions it has provided to officers to inform their enforcement of public health directions to enable assessment of whether such guidance is sufficient, updated and accurate while also establishing clear community expectations about compliance.
The Committee recommends that ACT Policing, ACT Health and Access Canberra publish weekly de-identified data about compliance activities taken under any public health emergency directions, including:
- the number of infringement notices or formal cautions issued;
- the number of compliance checks conducted; and
- basic socio-demographic indicators of affected individuals or businesses.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government either:
- put in place additional controls and procedures to ensure that only approved employees or personnel may access data in the National COVIDSafe data store and may do so solely for the purpose of contact tracing; or
- if the ACT Government believes that data agreements signed with the Commonwealth containing rules governing their usage of COVID app data are legally enforceable, publicly release those agreements.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government ensures that information is specifically adapted to help children and young people understand COVID-19, what is required of them and where they can access support if needed.
The Committee recommends that, to enable timely communication when there are exceptional circumstances, the Directorate suspends its usual protocol of not communicating with teachers and school staff out of normal work hours.
The Committee recommends that if there are further restrictions on face to face schooling that the ACT Government prioritise facilitating normal schooling for children with special needs.
The Committee recommends that further work be undertaken to support students with special needs, including those in learning support units or with an Individual Learning Plan (ILP), during shut downs.
The Committee recommends that all school systems provide extra support to students who may have been left behind by the changes in education, and in particular those who were struggling before the emergency.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government undertake an independent review of the learning from home period so that improvements can be made for similar future situations. The scope should include but not be limited to:
- preparedness for remote learning;
- resources available for schools and families, including consideration of identification of vulnerable children and additional supports provided;
- communication with school communities and parents; and
- comparison of differences with the responses in other jurisdictions.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government undertake an independent longitudinal study to measure the impact of the COVID-19 response on children's education
The Committee recommends that, wherever possible, students have access to their local school during any similar shut downs.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government publish the scope of the Coordinator-General's role.
The full report is available at https://www.parliament.act.gov.au/parliamentary-business/in-committees/recent-reports
The Committee intends to release further interim reports as it receives evidence.
The Select Committee was established by the Legislative Assembly on 2 April to provide oversight to the ACT Government’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The resolution establishing the Committee is available on the Committee’s website.
For further information please contact the Committee Secretary on (02) 6205 0129 or by email at: LACommitteeCOVID19@parliament.act.gov.au.
Friday 29 May 2020